As many of you know, I arrived at The Seeing Eye Dog Guide school campus on July 19, in the late afternoon. Though I had an idea of what would take place, there were many unknowns revealed as the days and weeks unfolded before me.
The first, came to me on July 21 in the early morning. When that magickal knock sounded and I bid the caller entry I was introduced to one of the finest dogs in the land. His name is Blue. He is a 67.3-pound black Labrador Golden Retriever cross, and I must say he is without doubt already the love of my life.
He is exactly what I need in this stage of my life and how I’ve done without him since Campbell’s passing, I’ve no idea.
Campbell was flamboyant. At the time he came to me this was just what I needed for the type of work I did and people I was around each day.
Now, I live a more sedate life, working from home and going quietly about my daily business mostly on my own.
Blue is calm, cool and collected. He knows just when to pour on the serious charge of work and when to bounce through our day with a wag and smile.
He is like me in that a little bit of people go a long way and for that I am profoundly grateful.
What I’ve learned over these past few weeks has been just how different I am. Ten years is quite a long time and until I began the training process, I really had no idea how much I’d changed both physically and mentally since I was here before.
Most of what I’ve discovered is good. Some, however, aren’t and I’ve found a few things about my physical health I must begin working on and it has become quite apparent to me that Blue will be my coach where this is concerned.
On Thursday August 5 We will return to Kingsport Tennessee, and it is my belief that’s when the true work will begin.
Blue will have no idea where things are, he will know no one but me and he will look to me for absolutely everything he needs.
During training, I’ve had assistance around every bend in the road but though I do have some great close friends and a family member or two in my physical sphere, Blue, Prince Edward and I will be mostly on our own.
I must help Blue, and Prince Edward learn to live and get along with one another. I must also spend quite a bit of time taking Blue out on long walks in our neighborhood. He will learn how to target the gate leading to our yard, the bus stop at the end of our block and the service desk in our favorite grocery store as well as many other places we will go each day.
He and I will face constant dog distractions from our neighborhood dogs, and until we get our paws underneath us, we won’t be stopping to say hello.
People must be respectful and not speak to or pet Blue so if you ask to pet and I say no, no is what I mean and I will only be polite once when asking you not to interfere. Should I need to ask again, you will learn quite quickly that no does indeed mean no and if it is not respected there will be deliberate consequence.
There are appropriate times for those who wish to do so to be allowed to get to know the dog but this is always the handler’s decision. That decision is final and under no circumstance will I allow it to be disobeyed.
I’ve been accused of being a rigid handler and to those who deem me so I say, Thank you for the complement. I demand exact obedience and work from my dog. He knows what I expect of him and what to expect from me.
When we’re out on the street, riding the bus or walking throughout a shopping center, store or mall there is no room for error. What we’re doing is life or death so interference from the public at large will not be tolerated.
Years ago, when I brought Campbell home and introduced him to my town our reception was warm and welcoming. For the most part, I expect the same type of reception for Blue but with COVID and all the other changes which have taken place over these years I also know things will be much different in many ways for us. Some of what is different is sad and will be deeply missed. Yet there are others which won’t be missed at all.
As I finish this writing to you, I make one request. If you wish to help, don’t assume you know what Blue and I need. Always ask so I can let you know what if anything you can do.
I also, once again ask you not touch me or my dog in any way whatso ever while we are in motion. To do so is the equivalent of my reaching out and taking control of the steering wheel of your car while it speeds down the street with traffic flying about from all sides.
When I think of all that lies ahead for us, I am momentarily paralyzed but I know we are secure in our knowledge of what we must do to be successful and so I shall shove my fears aside and go “Forward” full-steam-ahead.
I thank you all for your love and support.
Thank you for reading, liking, commenting on and sharing.
May Harmony find You and Blessid Be.
About Patty L. Fletcher…
Patty L. Fletcher lives in Kingsport Tennessee where she works full time as a Writer with the goal of bridging the great chasm which separates the disAbled from the non-disAbled. She is Also a Social Media Marketing Assistant.
To learn more visit: https://www.amazon.com/Patty-L.-Fletcher/e/B00Q9I7RWG
Patty and her guide dog Blue. Patty has her hair tied back in a low ponytail and rests her right hand on Blue’s head. She wears a white shirt with a pink and purple butterfly on the front and light blue shorts. Blue is a handsome black lab. He wears a brown leather harness with a handle attached to the back and is smiling at the camera as he sits in front of Patty. In the background is a brick building with white, windowed doors and a flowerpot overflowing with pink and yellow blooms.